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  • 2018kopfphd

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Debating the European Union transnationally: Wikipedians’ construction of the EU on a Wikipedia talk page (2001-2015)

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Published
  • Susanne Kopf
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Publication date2018
Number of pages237
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Publisher
  • Lancaster University
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This thesis deals with the construction of the European Union (EU) as negotiated among contributors to the English Wikipedia between 2001 and 2015. It focuses on the Talk Page (TP) which accompanies the Wikipedia article on the EU and provides a space for Wikipedia contributors to discuss controversial issues regarding the article. The EU has received considerable attention in Critical Discourse Studies (CDS), addressing e.g. questions regarding language policy and discourses surrounding topics connected to the EU (e.g. Muntigl, Weiss, & Wodak, 2000; Unger, Krzyżanowski, & Wodak, 2014; Wodak, 2007a). However, private individuals’ attempts to make sense of the EU when facing the task of defining it have hardly been touched upon. In this context, Wikipedia constitutes an ideal repository of data as it has recorded debates on the institution since 2001. Taking a corpus-assisted approach (cf. Baker, 2006), I examine how contributors from various backgrounds have grappled with their understanding of the EU. Additionally, this study explores aspects of Wikipedia since this collaboratively created encyclopaedia has received little research attention. Taking the EU on Wikipedia as a starting point, this thesis presents a foray into how Wikipedia can be approached from a CDS perspective. That is, on the one hand, it identifies central aspects of this website’s structure and addresses policies that guide Wikipedia operations and thus shape Wikipedia data. On the other hand, it examines the site’s societal impact/relevance and evaluates to what extent it can function as a transnational public sphere.Findings suggest that a substantial part of discussions amongst Wikipedians addresses the classification of the EU along the continuum between confederation and unified country, depending on different views concerning member states’ sovereignty. Wikipedia’s policies and the nature of the debates further suggest that the TP can, to some extent, serve as a transnational public sphere.